A Bewitching Performance

Spartanburg High students put on a production of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”


Photo by Z. White

Stunning visuals and strong performances all around helped to bring “The Crucible” to life. The red backdrop in this scene portrayed the fear the actors were trying to deliver.

Foster Neely, Student Life Editor

From Oct. 7-9, the new Viking Theatre Company at Spartanburg High School put on a production of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. Led by Dr. Ben Dawkins, student actors came together to share their talents with their classmates, parents, friends and avid thespians from all over Spartanburg.  

“The Crucible” is set in Salem, Massachusetts, circa 1692, during the Salem witch trials. The play explores thematic concepts of jealousy, vengeance, guilt and mass hysteria through the characters of heroic John Proctor, authoritative Judge Thomas Danforth, and the naïve, lovestruck teenager Abigail Williams. Throughout the performance, actors are tasked with delivering difficult language and intense emotion, which is no easy feat for a group of high school actors. Despite these challenges, the Viking Theatre Company came together and rehearsed tirelessly for weeks to put on their show in early October. 

Cassidy Scherer (11) played Susanna Walcott, a young nurse’s assistant who blindly follows Abigail Williams in pretending to see spirits and creating the mass hysteria that plagues Salem.  

I wanted to audition for ‘The Crucible’ because I’ve always had a fascination with the Salem witch trials, and I thought it would be a fun afterschool activity for me. My favorite part of being involved in the play was all the friendships I made, and I just love how tight knit our cast is,” Scherer said. 

One of the things that draws actors into theatre is the connections made with other performers. The cast and crew of “The Crucible” was no exception.  The Viking Theatre Company spent hours each week before the performance learning their lines, their positions on stage, and how to correctly convey their character’s emotions and ideals. They also learned to work together and helped each other, which created strong bonds between the actors.  

Tishona Shaw-Mckoy (11) played Judge Danforth and enjoyed the cast that she was able to work with. 

“I love doing shows so much. My favorite thing to do is acting, and I have never done a show like this before. I did it for the experience. I think the most important lesson in this play is honesty. So many people in this play lied to save themselves and it cost so many people their lives. It is better to be honest about what you did wrong or not do it at all,” Shaw-Mckay said.  

The plot of “The Crucible” focuses on the witchcraft hysteria that went on in Salem in 1692. The play is based on actual historical figures from Salem, and many of the events that occur in “The Crucible” actually occurred in real life. But according to interviews with playwright Arthur Miller, “The Crucible” has a deeper meaning. When Miller was writing “The Crucible” in the 1950s, an event called the Red Scare was taking place in the United States. During the Red Scare, Senator Joseph McCarthy spread fears of communism infiltrating the American government. Miller saw the similarities between the Red Scare and The Salem witch trials, which influenced him to write the play.  

Keira Chanthavongsor (11) was a part of the backstage crew and was able to work on and watch the show develop behind the scenes.  

My favorite part about being involved with ‘The Crucible’ was watching my friends transform into their high intensity characters and tell the story so wonderfully. Everyone in the cast is so incredibly talented. I think the important lesson the play tells is that it’s not okay to lie, jump to conclusions, and point fingers. It can ruin lives and bring distress to people,” Chanthavongsor said.